THE NEW ARCHITECT OF ECO-FASHION MESHES FINE QUALITY WITH GRUNGE SENSIBILITIES
Photographed by Eduardo Silva
Designer/Stylist: Titania Inglis
Makeup & hair: Jess Hwang
Model: Karyna K.
Photographer’s assistant: Tyler Nevitt (Milk Studios)
Photographer’s assistant: Christian Robinson (Milk Studios)
Stylist’s assistant: Adrian Fekete
Story by Nichole Jankowski
“I grew up in a hippie town upstate,” says Titania Inglis, the New York-based designer, over the phone. “I’ve just always seen myself as an environmentalist,” she adds.
You’d never guess it though, judging from the minimalist, contemporary designs she produces for her namesake label. “Eco” is definitely not a word that comes to mind when one sees Inglis’ collection coming down a runway, but considering her roots, the sustainable mission behind her line makes sense. For Inglis there was no other option.
After completing an undergraduate degree in math and political science Inglis considered her next move before heading back to school, this time for design at the California College of the Arts in San Francisco for a year, before transferring to Design Academy Eindhoven in the Netherlands, and then back to New York to study at the Fashion Institute of Technology.
“The hard thing for me about going into design school was this idea of adding more stuff into the world when we already have so many tonnes and tonnes of waste going into landfills all the time,” says Inglis, who, when she first considered starting her own line, began a blog to research ways of minimizing its environmental impact. The challenges of running an “eco-line” extend way beyond fair labour to fabric and technique, dyes and durability.
When asked, she acknowledges that the “eco” label can have undesirable connotations when it comes to fashion, rousing images of tie-dye and patchwork patterns. She’s working hard to break that stereotype. When I first met Inglis at Vancouver’s Eco Fashion Week in October 2011, her line stood out from the others not only for its professional finishing—its quality was evident from the runway—but its modern silhouettes and architectural lines.
Early in 2012, Inglis won the prestigious Ecco Domani Fashion Foundation Style Stars award in the recently established category for sustainable design. Previous recipients of an Ecco Domani Fashion Foundation prize include Rodarte, Alexander Wang, Proenza Schouler, Ohne Titel, Prabal Gurung and Joseph Altuzarra. The honour awards its recipients with a $25,000 prize and a show at New York Fashion Week.
From that also came a collaboration with NYC-based Bliss Lau jewellery, and a contact with her current PR company, Rep Mode. Both pairings seem to be working well. When I stopped by Rep Mode’s Tribeca office to pick up samples for our editorial, most Titania Inglis pieces were already out on other shoots.
“I’d been looking at these undersea creatures, and their geometric structures,” says Inglis, speaking about her inspiration for the season. Such a mention might conjure up images from Karl Lagerfeld’s fantastical ‘Under the Sea’ Spring/Summer 2012 collection for Chanel, but Inglis’ influence for her line couldn’t come from a further place. Her collection is dark and moody and her tailoring is as tight as the trunk rings on a seahorse.
Inglis is also inspired by medieval amour because of “the high structure of the metal,” which is invoked in the clean lines of her pieces and her signature contrast binding, allowing garments to be worn inside out.
Her Fall/Winter 2012 collection was in part inspired by a plaid made of recycled cotton and linen Inglis sourced from Japan—part of the challenge of running and eco-line is finding materials that are produced ethically, and sometimes a collection has to grow out of the fabrics available. “But this is something you learn in design school, sometimes the more restrictions you have, in a way the more creativity it can give you,” says Inglis, who produced a show-stopping floor-length skirt in this plaid.
“I was the one girl back in high school in the ’90s that refused to wear plaid flannel like everybody else,” says Inglis. “So it was kind of interesting for me to go back to that look and the whole My So-Called Life layered grunge look and really sort of investigate that and tweak that in a way I found interesting.”
“I mean what’s not sustainable is when people buy things they don’t actually like and are never going to wear,” says Inglis. “To me the term to use is responsible fashion.”
“It’s really about putting consideration into each design,” adds Inglis. She designs for a smaller wardrobe, creating quality and versatile pieces that last longer and stay in your closet for years, rather than a season.
Titania Inglis can be purchased online at titaniainglis.com.